Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F)

Project web site is http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/edms/. Project # is 3018824 – go to the project website http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/edms/ and enter the project address—3272 Fuhrman Ave E (no periods)—in the right hand corner

January 29, 2017

Eleven new documents concerning construction and geotechnical information have been posted to the project website since the last update. A letter and photos regarding slope instability from one of the property owners below the site has also been posted.

Master Use Permit (MUP)

As noted in the last update, the Master Use Permit has been issued.

Appeal/Request for Code Interpretation

As noted in the last update, we filed an appeal to the City Hearing Examiner on the January 9 due date. We also filed a second request for interpretation on issues including steep slope, garbage collection, balconies overhanging the street, absence of street improvements, and risk of landslide and/or road collapse.

Meeting with Developer

After filing the appeal, we received a request from the developer to meet to discuss our concerns. Two members of the steering committee met with the developer last week. We raised our concerns and had a cordial and productive conversation. We will be meeting again this week and hope to make further progress toward resolution. Based on making progress toward resolution of our concerns, we agreed to a stay of the appeal process with the City Hearing Examiner. If there is no resolution of our concerns, we can remove the stay and go forward with the appeal.

Finances

Thank you to those who have contributed, and especially to those who answered the call for additional funds this month. We have a bank balance of $4,235.18 before receiving the January bill from our lawyer. Contributions to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) should be directed to Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102.


 

January 10, 2017
Project Web Site
We have discovered that not all of the Red Robin project documents are listed under project number 3018824. Instead new numbers are assigned to some documents. So to find all documents,
• go to the project website http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/edms/
• enter the project address—3272 Fuhrman Ave E (no periods)—in the right hand corner
Master Use Permit (MUP)
On December 27, 2016 the Decision/Recommendations from the Department of Construction and Inspections (DCI) Director Nathan Torgelson was posted on the project website. The decision is dated December 26, a legal holiday for the City of Seattle. As promised, your Steering Committee—with the help of our lawyer—has reviewed and analyzed the Decision/Recommendations in which:
“The Director accepts the Design Review Board’s recommendations and APPROVES the proposed design and requested departures.”
“The Shoreline Substantial Development Permit is GRANTED.”
Re the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA): “This proposal has been determined to not have a significant adverse impact upon the environment.”
The proposal approved in the Master Use Permit is essentially unchanged but we do have the widened street—16 feet at the east end and 25 feet at the west end—to celebrate. The original design assumed a 12-15 foot width so we have gained 4-11 feet.
Appeal 
There are two opportunities for appeal: first to the City Hearing Examiner; and then— 21 days after the City appeal decision—to the Shorelines Hearing Board to appeal the shoreline substantial development permit. The appeal to the City Hearing Examiner was due yesterday, Monday, January 9 by 4 PM. We had expected to be able to ask the community for further input on this first appeal decision but given the brief timeline over the holidays—and the clearly-appealable issues—we have gone ahead with the appeal.
Request for Code Interpretation
Our original request for code interpretation on street width, right-of-way, setback etc. was filed early in the process. Since then, a number of other questions about interpretation of codes have arisen. We have therefore filed another request for code interpretation on the new questions. The filing deadline was also January 9. The second request covers issues that were not raised when we filed the first request (in August 2015 just after the City recognized its error and reversed its earlier unilateral decision to classify the street as an alley). The new issues include steep slope, garbage collection, balconies overhanging the street, absence of sidewalks other street improvements, and risk of landslide and/or road collapse.
Finances
For the past several years we have been working toward two goals: ensuring that the development of the old Red Robin site would respect the safety concerns on our one lane dead-end street, and that the development would be an asset to the entire neighborhood. We have been careful to limit fundraising to the amount needed at the time. To date, 48 households and three floating home docks have contributed a total of $25,605. The expenses ($24,841.82) have been to our attorney ($15,955.10), the first code interpretation request in August 2015 ($2,500), traffic studies ($6,305), and bank fees ($81.72). We have a bank balance of $763.18. We now need additional funds to cover this month’s expenses, including the $3,150 fee to the City of Seattle for the second code interpretation. A big THANK YOU to those who have generously contributed, as well as appreciation to all who have indicated a willingness to contribute—or contribute further in some cases. Contributions to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) are needed, and should be directed to Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102.


December 28, 2016
News

The land use decision in the project’s Master Use Permit (MUP) has been published. Many of you will have received yesterday’s email from the City of Seattle. The two referenced documents can be found at the project website.
• Decision/Recommendations (posted 12/27/16): Contains analysis and recommendations from the Department of Construction and Inspections (DCI) Director Nathan Torgelson:

“The Director accepts the Design Review Board’s recommendations and APPROVES the proposed design and requested departures.”
“The Shoreline Substantial Development Permit is GRANTED.”
Re the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA): “This proposal has been determined to not have a significant adverse impact upon the environment.”

• Notice: Notice of Decision and Parties (posted 12/27/16): Provides information on Hearing Examiner Appeals, Interpretation requests and Shoreline decisions; and lists all parties who have received the information.
Next Steps
The Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) Steering Committee is reviewing
the information.
Option of Appeal
As previously noted, if the proposal approved in the Master Use Permit is not satisfactory—and if sufficient money is available—we have the option of appeal. Depending on the level of preparation required, an appeal would cost between $6,000-$16,000. We expect to ask the community for further input as to whether this step should be taken.

December 20, 2016

No News
No new material from the developer has been posted since 10/24/16 when three documents
were posted:
• an updated plan (Plan Set: Plan Set V5)
• a memorandum (Traffic Study: Traffic and Parking Update Memo) responding to traffic, parking and safety issues
• a response (Other: Potech Correction Response) affirming that the mature canopy of replacement trees will equal or exceed the canopy of the large Big
Leaf Maple tree to be removed
The many questions that have been raised—about the stairway Between Portage Bay and Fuhrman, about Portage Bay street width, about garbage/recycling collection, about road stability—remain unanswered. We have received no response to our December 13 request for information from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) Design Review Planner.
Finances
48 households and three docks have contributed a total of $25,605. We have a bank balance of $763.18. Contributions to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN &F) are handled by Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102. As previously noted, if a Master Use Permit is issued and the proposal approved in the Master Use Permit is not satisfactory—and if sufficient money is available—we have the option of appeal. Depending on the level of preparation required, an appeal would cost between $6,000-$16,000. Any appeal would be taken to the Shoreline Hearings Board. If and when the time for appeal arrives, we expect to ask the community for further input as to whether this step should be taken. This email is being sent to all who have expressed interest in the proposed development.


August 18th 2016

Red Lines

Those on Portage Bay Bay Place may have noticed the spray-painted red lines (thanks to Lou Daly). The solid red indicate the proposed building edge on PBPE; the dotted lines indicate the overhang of the balconies.

Current Status

The City Attorney’s Office is reviewing our Request for Code Interpretation and should have a response in the next couple of weeks.

We will be sending another comment letter this week requesting that the City Attorney’s Office consider all comments and submissions of PBPN&F in its review. The request in the comment letter will also include confirmation that the developer’s proposal does in fact ensure a minimum paved Portage Bay Place street width of 16 feet, and that stair access between Portage Bay and Fuhrman be included in the development.

Two of the three recent postings on the project website are requests from the City for additional or corrected information.

* Other Correction Letter: Cycle 1 corrections for LAND USE v3 posted 8/16 is from John Shaw, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (DCI) Lead for Transportation Management Plans and includes issues we have raised.

* Other Correction Letter: Cycle 3 corrections for ZONING posted 8/5 is from Naomi Henry, DCI Senior Land Use Planner regarding an easement “…for the required sight triangle.…”

When and if all City requests for additional or corrected information have received a satisfactory response, a Master Use Permit can be issued.

If the proposal approved in the Master Use Permit is not satisfactory—and if sufficient money is available—we have the option of appeal. In that case, we’ll be asking if there is interest in pursuing an appeal.

Lack of Response

To review: In July, Portage Bay Neighbors and Friends sent a letter to Nathan Torgelson, DCI Director (Public Comment Letter: Chon posted 7/20/16). We requested an opportunity to discuss our concerns, and emphasized that we welcomed a development that appropriately addressed the safety of our street, which the current proposals do not.

Four major issues and corresponding requests were raised in the letter:

* The instability of Portage Bay Place East (PBPE). We requested that geotechnical safety questions be addressed with a fully developed factual record prior to the final decision on the Master Use Permit (MUP).

* Continuing unresolved traffic safety issues. We requested that stair access (between Fuhrman and Portage Bay Place) be included in the final design prior to decision on the MUP.

* Material departures from the design approved at the last Design Review Board meeting. We requested that the project be referred for full discussion at an additional Design Review Board meeting, to address material departures from the approved design prior to decision on the MUP.

* Pattern of factual errors in the developers’ responses. We provided a list of material factual inaccuracies asserted by the developers, selecting those most material to the question of traffic safety.

Our letter to Mr. Torgelson was posted on the DCI project website but we have received no direct response from him.

City Council Visit

Rob Johnson (District 4; Chair, Land Use & Zoning; Vice-Chair, Sustainability & Transportation) represented by Geri Morris and Roberta Baker (DCI Land Use Program Director), met with two members of PBN&F. Discussion focused on

the stairway being eliminated, the road condition, and the inadequacy of the garbage plan.

Ms. Baker said she would check into the stairway issue and the garbage plan.

Finances

We have $2,074 in the bank and are expecting another bill from our lawyers at the end of the month. Contributions to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) are handled by Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102.


Portage Bay Pruning of Trees and Vegetation 

Where: The Entire Length of Portage Bay Place East
When:   As early as Monday Aug. 29

As early as August 29th, SDOT crews will prune overgrown trees and other vegetation in the right-of-way of the entire length of Portage Bay Place East (from Furman Ave E just west of Eastlake Ave E to the dead end near E Allison St.)

This work will maintain access for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.

If you prefer to prune your trees or vegetation yourself or to hire a contractor, please complete the pruning before Monday, Aug. 29.

  • If you are pruning trees growing in the street right-of-way, a tree pruning permit is required.  Tree pruning permits are free if no specialized equipment is used.
  • For information on how to get a tree pruning permit or how to prune your trees, please visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/treeplantapp.htm  or call 206-684-TREE (8733).

In Seattle, trees and other vegetation must provide 14 feet of clearance above the street.  Vegetation management and private tree pruning within the public right-of-way is the responsibility of the property owner. If you cannot trim vegetation and prune your trees by August 29, SDOT will complete this work once as a courtesy.  Future, continued maintenance is the property owner’s responsibility.

By mid-August we will provide the exact date of the pruning work.
On the day of the pruning, there will be no parking on or adjacent to Portage Bay Place.   Because this street is very narrow, private vehicles need to be removed to provide space for equipment and to eliminate any potential for damage to private vehicles during the pruning work.  We apologize for this inconvenience; it is part of the process of providing access to emergency vehicles to your property.
Thank you for your cooperation!

David Allen, Seattle Department of Transportation
David.Allen@seattle.gov  (206) 733-9302
www.seattle.gov/transportation
For interpretation services, please call (206) 733-9990


Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F)

Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) Project web site is http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/edms/. Project # is 3018824

July 21st

Three New Postings to Project Website

•    a letter from Portage Bay Neighbors and Friends to Carly Guillory, DCI land Use Planner (Public Comment Letter: Chon posted 7/13/16)

•    Guillory’s response (Correspondence: Correspondence V11 posted   7/13/16)

•    and a letter from PBN&F to Nathan Torgelson, Director of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. The letter was forwarded to Guillory and posted on the website (Public Comment Letter: Chon posted 7/20/16)

Letter from PBN&F to Nathan Torgelson, DCI Director

The letter responds to the most recent documents submitted by the developer, outlines critical safety issues and requests specific responses.

A summary of four major issues raised in the letter to Torgelson:

1)   The instability of Portage Bay Place East (PBPE) adjacent to the planned development, a concern exacerbated by the nearby steep slope.

Response: We are requesting that geotechnical safety questions be addressed with a fully developed factual record prior to the final decision on the Master Use Permit (MUP).

2)   Continuing unresolved traffic safety issues, such as pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Response: We are requesting that the stair access (between Fuhrman and Portage Bay Place) be retained or moved in the final design prior to the final decision on the MUP.

3)   Material departures from the design approved at the last Design Review Board meeting. These include changes to the building surface at street level along PBPE, as well as removal of stair access between Fuhrman and PBPE.

Response: We are requesting that the project be referred for full discussion at an additional Design Review Board meeting, to address these material departures from the approved design before the final decision on the MUP.

4)   Pattern of factual errors in the developers’ responses, errors that are material because they create a false impression of safety.

Response: We have provided a list of material factual inaccuracies asserted by the developers, selecting those most material to the question of traffic safety.

Taken together, these errors and omissions evidence a pattern of troubling non- responsiveness and less than fully accurate representations asserted by the developers throughout the entire MUP process.

Request for Discussion

From the close of our letter: “We request an opportunity to discuss these significant concerns with you. As always, we are open to the inclusion of the developers to discuss these issues together. Finally, we emphasize that we welcome a new development that appropriately addresses the safety of our street, which the current proposals do not.”

Department of Transportation

We are also reaching out to SDOT to follow up on their June 22 inspection visit to the street.

City Council

We have a visit to the proposed development site and to Portage Bay Place East scheduled with City Council staff in early August.

Finances

No change. A total of 48 households and three docks have generously contributed $24,855. We are current on our bills and have cash in the bank ($2,074).

Contributions to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) are handled by Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102.

This email is being sent to all who have expressed interest in the proposed development. Please accept my apology if I have sent it to you in error. If you would like to be excluded from future emails, please let me know.

July 11th

Where We are Now

The developer has prepared a new plan set and has responded to the City’s requests for correction and information. On July 8, Seattle City Light issued a correction notice: the proposed building does not meet minimum clearance requirements from the overhead secondary service line which serves the adjacent building; the service must be relocated at the project’s expense.

Once the developer has made all corrections, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) reviews the corrected plans, prepares a Master Use Decision document and publishes the decision.

Appeal Period

According to SDCI,  “this initiates the appeal period. The SEPA* Checklist is annotated by staff and included in the record.  Due to the SSDP [Shoreline Substantial Development Permit] component, the appeal period will be 30 days (SMC 23.76.012.D).” Any appeal is to the state Shoreline Hearings Board.”

* State Environmental Policy Act

Key Success

We now have a Portage Bay Place minimum street width of 16 feet along the development property. This after many months of effort, and despite Portage Bay Place initially being declared an alley; and despite Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) approving a 12 foot street width. Along the length of the building, the road width is 16 feet; at the northwest end of the building, the street width is 25 feet.

In addition to the existing 20 foot right-of-way along the University Bridge, an additional 12 foot setback is being required. There will be approximately 32 feet between the building and the University Bridge.

Building Design

With the additional setbacks on the north and west sides, the 61 apartments have shrunk; most are in the 300 sq.ft. range.

From Fuhrman Avenue: the development is two and three stories high, with a narrow central courtyard and a commercial space at the corner nearest the University Bridge. The loading zone is across the street, on the south side.

From Portage Bay Place East: the full length of the building is four and a half stories high, with balconies overhanging the street by an average of seven feet, and a projection at the northwest corner that overhangs the street by ten feet. The lower six feet of the building is concrete. The garage opening and dumpsters are on Portage Bay Place East.

Priorities

1) The stability of Portage Bay Place East

The stability of Portage Bay Place is questionable. We have had no response to our request for an additional test bore on the portion of the street owned by the developer. In addition, the question of the project’s proximity to a steep slope is unresolved.

2) Elimination of stairway

The proposed stairway from Fuhrman Ave to Portage Bay Place East in the right-of-way next to the University Bridge has been eliminated. The decision is attributed to Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Department of Transportation. A 24 inch water main runs beneath the right-of-way. The development will also eliminate the existing stairway near the bridge, with a new concrete wall on PBPE serving as a barrier.

For at least 45 years there has been a pedestrian connection between Fuhrman and Portage Bay along the east side of the University Bridge. Without that connection, foot and bicycle traffic will need to pass through the narrow blind corner under the bridge.

3) Traffic Study

The developer’s response to the City’s request for additional information re traffic contains a number of factual errors. Some questions are still unresolved. Ten vehicles on Portage Bay Place East will be displaced in addition to the elimination of the parking in the former Red Robin lot. Commercial deliveries and moving vans would use the 30 minute vehicle loading area on the south side of Fuhrman, near Sebi’s. How the Portage Bay Place garbage/recycling would be handled is unclear.

In addition, the City is proposing eliminating left turns from Eastlake Avenue onto Fuhrman Avenue. The impact of this proposed major traffic revision is uncertain.

4) Balconies and Overhang

The plan shows balconies overhanging Portage Bay Place by seven feet, as well as an overhang at the northwest corner that overhangs by ten feet.

Steering Committee

A small group of people has been laboring for a year and a half to influence the proposed development. While are very happy with the improved safety of the wider Portage Bay Place road width, the safety concerns re street stability and pedestrian/bicycle access remain. We need to match remaining energy with remaining priorities.

If one of the four priorities above is important to you, now is the time to get involved! Just respond via email: loisloontjens@comcast.net

Finances

No change. A total of 48 households and three docks have generously contributed $24,855. We are current on our bills and have cash in the bank ($2,074).

Contributions to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) are handled by Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102.

June 14, 2016

The Long View

The first posting on the project website was 10/2/14 and the first comment letter was 1/27/15.Thanks to all who have been contributing, commenting, attending meetings, analyzing drawings, taking photos, and more. It’s a long game…and a worthwhile one.

Activity/Communication

In the last update we reported on our meeting with a geotech expert to better understand the Seattle Municipal Code prohibiting development in sleep slope areas, and the exceptions to that prohibition. The professional comment/letter by Dr. Robert Burk (Burk GeoConsult) to the City was posted on 6/3/16 (included in Public Comment Letter: Chon 5/26/16)

Other Website Postings in the Past Month

On 5/13/16 (Cycle 1 corrections for LAND USE).The reviewer, John Shaw, Lead, DCI Transportation Management Plans requested information on location and provision for garbage/recycling, retail deliveries and moving vans for residents; a diagram of the base of the stairs at the western edge of the property relative to the proposed vehicle pullout area; analysis of the impact on the intersection of Portage Bay Place East and Fuhrman, and the immediately adjacent intersection with Eastlake; and the impact on street parking, including vehicles parking on Portage Bay Place East displaced by the project, as well as additional parking demand from the current projects at 3206 and 3120 Harvard Ave. E.

This correction notice follows our 4/19/16 meeting with our traffic consultant Ross Tilghman and the City in which we raised our concerns about these and other issues.

On 5/13/16 (REC Report) – The recommendation of the East Design Review Board March 16 Recommendation Meeting originally posted on May 9 was corrected to state that the project’s design was approved with no conditions.

Waiting for DCI Decision

The City has not yet published any official response to the developer’s request (posted 1/25/16) for exceptions to required Right-of-Way improvements. The developer’s request included reduction in the width of Portage Bay Place East, removal of the current shoulder area, and allowing the edge of the street to extend to the edge of the building.

We are also waiting for responses to our request that the developers submit an additional geotech study that addresses the stability of the property comprising the PBPE Right-of-Way, our request for code interpretation, and our public records request.

Finances

A total of 48 households and three docks have contributed $24,855. We are current on our bills and have cash in the bank ($2,074). Many thanks to all who have contributed!

Contributions to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) are handled by Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102.

April 24, 2016

Project web site is http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/edms/. Project # is 3018824. For more information about PBN & F please email Darlene Borland
NOTE: The Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends are very grateful to everyone who donated cash at the FHA annual meeting!  We didn’t get all of your names, but we want to acknowledge and thank you for your support – it means a lot to us!

Good News

Because of concerns about the developer’s traffic study and subsequent update PBPN & F solicited the opinion of an independent expert. The opinion letter by Ross Tilghman (dated 3/30, posted 4/16) was submitted to the City and a meeting requested.  The City Department of Construction and Inspections (DCI) responded and on 4/19 traffic consultant Ross Tilghman and two of the PBPN & F Steering Committee members met with Nathan Torgelson (DCI Director), John Shaw (Lead, DCI Transportation Management Plans) and Roberta Baker (Land Use Services in the DCI Operations Division).  The meeting was cordial and included traffic safety, fire safety and geotech concerns, as well as the weakness of the request for exceptions. Traffic consultant Ross Tilghman pointed out that most of the traffic safety problems could be resolved if the road width were 18 feet along the frontage of the development.  DCI asked whether we would be interested in meeting with the developers and the City to discuss our concerns further. The PBPN & F representatives agreed and noted that we had an early meeting with one of the developers—at our request—and have heard nothing since.

No News

The City has not yet published any official response to the the developer’s request
(posted three months ago) for exceptions to required Right-of-Way improvements. The developer’s request included reduction in the the width of Portage Bay Place East, removal of the current shoulder area, and allowing the edge of the street to extend to the edge of the building. There has been no response to our request that the developers submit an additional geotech study that addresses the stability of the property comprising the PBPE Right-of-Way. There has been no response to our request for code interpretation. There has been no response to our recent public records request.

Finances

Contributions have allowed us to pay for excellent legal advice and retain the services of a respected traffic consultant, both of which have have allowed us to have a meaningful impact. Thanks to generous contributions in the past three weeks, we have been able to pay for the traffic gap study. A total of 44 households, including almost all of the homeowners on Portage Bay Place East, have contributed $24,295. Our fellow floating home residents around the lake donated $340 at the Floating Homes Association Annual Meeting on April 20. To contribute, make checks payable to Portage Bay Place Neighbors and Friends (PBPN & F) and send to Darlene Borland, 3146-E Portage Bay Pl. E., Seattle WA 98102. Darlene can also be reached at darleneborland@gmail.com.